Carved limewood model of the figurehead of HMS Queen Charlotte – £50,000 at Bonhams.

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The art and antiques world is understandably keen to capitalise on the potential of such an historic occasion and one result is a raft of themed Nelson- and Trafalgar-related auctions scheduled to take place throughout the year. The first of these, titled Nelson and the Royal Navy, took place at Bonhams Bond Street rooms on July 5. This wide-ranging, 386-lot commemorative extravaganza generated a hammer total of just over £1.5m with the hoped-for 'Nelson factor' boosting prices to set new auction highs in several different categories.

Topping the bill at £155,000, for example, and thereby establishing a new record for a Lloyds Patriotic Fund sword, was a cased £100 value example awarded to Captain Charles Tyler of HMS Tonnant, part of a collection of memorabilia offered by his descendants.

Although many of the purchasers were determined private collectors, the sale also generated institutional interest. One major museum purchase was this 14in (36cm) carved limewood model of the figurehead of HMS Queen Charlotte, which was the King's flagship before HMS Victory.

One of only a handful of British examples known to have survived, it was carved at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Chatham between 1783-1784 where it will now return having been purchased by the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust for £50,000.

Reports of Nelson and Trafalgar sales in Edinburgh, London, Newbury and Lewes will appear in future issues.